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Depression: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Depression?

Clinical depression is a serious condition that negatively affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It is persistent and often with a person’s ability to experience or anticipate pleasure. If inadequately treated, depression can lead to significant impairment, other health-related issues, and in rare cases, suicide. 

Anxiety and stress

Signs and Symptoms?

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry upsurges, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of attentiveness or pleasure in most or all usual activities and sports
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Slowed thinking, body movements, and speaking
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or  worst suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Depression symptoms in children and teens

  • It can cause sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches, pains, refusal to go to school, or being underweight in children.
  • Teenagers may experience sadness, irritability, feelings of negative and worthlessness, anger, poor school performance or poor attendance, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interactions.

Depression symptoms in older adults

man with ear rings sad by the glass

Despair is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, this condition often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults. Symptoms of this condition may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:

  • Physical aches or pain
  • Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems, or loss of interest in sex 
  • Memory difficulties or personality changes
  • Often wanting to stay at home, rather than go out to socialize or do new things

What Causes Depression?

  • Life events. It can be caused by stress, the death of a loved one, upsetting events, isolation, and a lack of support.
  • Medication. Recreational drugs and alcohol can also cause depression or make it worse.
  • Brain chemistry. It may be caused by abnormal brain chemical levels.
  • Genetics. If you have a relative with depression, you may be more likely to become depressed.
  • Personality. An individual who has trouble coping or is easily overwhelmed may be prone to depression.
  • Medical conditions. Depression and diabetes are common, as are cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Treatment and Management of Depression

Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. However, many people with this condition also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. Other treatments are Electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation. In ECT, electrical currents are passed through the brain to impact the function and effect of neurotransmitters in your brain to relieve the condition. TMS, on the other hand, can be an option for those who haven’t responded to antidepressants. 

Medication Used for Depression

Citalopram is an effective drug to treat major depression associated with mood disorders. This is also used as a medication for panic disorders and anxiety. This prescription belongs to Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which work by restoring the balance of those neurotransmitters that are responsible for producing anxiety and mood changes.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Depression

  • Pay attention to warning signs. Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your depression symptoms. Make a plan so that you know what to do if your symptoms get worse. 
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. Even though alcohol and drugs seem to lessen the symptoms, in the long run, they worsen them. 
  • Stick to your treatment plan. Don’t skip psychotherapy sessions or appointments.
  • Learn about your condition. Education about your condition can empower you and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthily, be physically active and get plenty of sleep. Walk, jog, swim, garden or do something else you enjoy.